The price for acute-care hospital care increased last year at its slowest pace in the 10 years for which comparable data is available, Producer Price Index figures show.
The Producer Price Index for acute-care hospitals increased 0.7% in the 12 months that ended in December. That's well below the annual average of 2.7% recorded by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics since 2004. The index, which includes prices paid to hospitals by Medicare, is the broader of two measures of inflation. The figures are preliminary for the four most-recent months.
In December, the acute-care hospital Producer Price Index declined 0.4%. In December 2013, prices were flat.
Tepid 2014 inflation helped to check U.S. health spending growth, even as signs that greater demand for medical care in the second half of the year contributed to an acceleration in U.S. health spending. Spending growth is expected to pick up this year with the improved economy and expansion of health insurance under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
The physician office Producer Price Index increased 0.7% last year, an uptick compared with the 0.3% growth for the prior year. Physician office prices were flat in December compared with a 0.1% decline for the same month a year ago.
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